Memphis

After rough weekend in Bahamas, Memphis enacts new media restrictions

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Memphis went into the Battle 4 Atlantis as a Top 25 team and came out with a 1-2 record and a label as one of the season’s early disappointments.

What was the school’s reaction? Enact new media policies that restrict access to local outlets and limit player interactions with reporters.

As reported by the Commercial Appeal’s Jason Smith, athletic director Tom Bowen is likely behind the move, one which now closes practices to media except national television outlets that will be airing Memphis games. The general reaction was one of surprise, considering how well regarded coach Josh Pastner is in dealing with media.

It also closes team locker rooms, also a standard practice for many teams, instead opting to bring Pastner and “select players” to the media room.

“This was a policy that (Bowen) instituted for football and he wanted to make sure that all sports abided by this policy,” Pastner told the Commercial Appeal. “So I was like, ‘You’re the boss.’ ”

With any move like this, the backlash is initially negative for the most part, but the sting of the new regulations typically fades. Schools like to present it as a way to “eliminate distractions,” but it often boils down to the fact that they want tighter restrictions on the information that comes out of the program.

Will it fix the fact that the Tigers are in a slide? Unlikely. But for transparency’s sake, fans have a much less negative reaction to a move like this because it doesn’t affect them directly on a daily basis.

For reporters, when the flow of information is constricted and the program becomes less media-friendly, the job becomes more difficult. Problem is, the principles of upholding transparency usually don’t resonate with the public or the casual fan of the program.

So expect drier answers coming out of press conferences in Memphis, and we’ll see if the Tigers can defy history and somewhere down the line point to this exercise in media regulation as having turned their season around.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.